Pet Needs Q&A
Colchester band Pet Needs released their debut full album 'Fractured Party Music' on March 12 - a rousing, punk inflected record that reflects both their strong songwriting capabilities and energetic, visceral live performances. Frontman Johnny Marriott stopped for a moment to answer a few questions below.
Pet Needs are Johnny Marriott (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), George Marriott (guitar, backing vocals, piano), Rich Gutierrez (bass, backing vocals) and Jack Lock (Drums, backing vocals).
'Fractured Party Music' is available on all the digital sites with CD and transparent blue vinyl editions available from the Pet Needs bandcamp site or from the band's record label Xtramile Records at Xtramilerecordings.com
Hi Guys, thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. First off, for those readers who might not be familiar with Pet Needs, could you give a short history of the band?
We formed about 4 years ago when my little brother George came down from Derby to live in Essex, went through a couple of line-up changes then really hit our stride 2 years ago with our current line-up!
We've just released an album on Xtra Mile Recordings called 'Fractured Party Music', which we're immensely proud of!
And who would you say were the main influences on Pet Needs?
We draw influence from so many places! Sonically I'd say we fit into the punk genre, but turn to rock, grime, spoken word, stand-up comedy of course punk for inspiration. Against Me! are a big influence on our work, amongst many others.
The new album 'Fractured Party Music' came out recently - do you have a sense of how it's doing out in the 'big wide world'?
We've been getting lovely messages from all over the world, which is great to hear. It's so weird to drop an album without being able to tour it yet... But the time will come!
Does it feel like a natural progression from the two EPs you've released previously or do you think it's a somewhat bigger leap forward in terms of production and songwriting? And where did you record the album; somewhere you've recorded before?
We recorded at Tom Donovan Studio where we've done everything. The difference was that instead of spending two days with him, we spent a whole week, which gave us space to push boundaries and try new things sonically.
It's definitely a huge leap from an EP to an album and I'd say it's progression, however still have a lot of love for our old tunes!
Who came up with the 'Fractured Party Music' album title - and is there any particular reason why the album has that title?
I coined the term in an interview a few years back when struggling to describe what we do as a band. "It's kind of party music I suppose. But not quite, because it feels like it could all implode at any second. It's kind of fractured. Yes! It's Fractured Party Music!"
The album has been released on Xtra Mile Records - how did you come to be involved with them?
It was through our now good friend Frank Turner who saw us play at Camden Rocks in 2019. We had kept in touch from there and then when he heard we were recording an album he put his hat in the ring to mix it and of course we jumped at the chance! When the record was finished he sent it to Charlie, Xtra Mile's CEO, who said he loved it and gave us a call... And here we are!
And it's a bit of a coup having Frank Turner mix and master the album - I know he's a fan of yours - where did you first meet him and how did he come to be involved in the album?
Sorry, just answered that above haha. I should read all the questions before answering!
Photo by Jake Deemer-Evans
What are your favourite tracks on the album and why?
Weirdly I think my favourite is the one that sounds the least like our typical sound. It's called "As the Spin Cycle Span" and is a delicate acoustic number about a man who came to fix my washing machine. We had to record it all in one take which meant no room for mistakes! It was great to explore something completely new.
And any numbers that you had written that had to be left off the album? And if so will we be seeing these at a later date?
Not at all, it was the other way round! We booked in the recording time when we only had seven songs, which gave us a month to finish the last four! The pressure seemed to work though as the tunes that were written in that short period ('Tracey Emin's Bed', 'Toothpaste', 'As the Spin Cycle Span', 'Embers') are some of the tracks on the album I'm most proud of.
We do have a bunch of new material though and have already recorded three tracks for album two!
Apart from obviously not being able to play live, has COVID provided any other specific challenges to the band? Would the album perhaps have been different in any way if the pandemic hadn't struck?
The album wouldn't exist, as we were in such a routine of dropping EPs and singles and gigging hard that we had never even considered it. And Frank would have been touring so wouldn't have had the time to mix it, which means Xtra Mile wouldn't have heard it... It's such a strange feeling to think that all this has happened because we haven't gigged for so long.
There were challenges in writing when we couldn't meet up and challenges in finding inspiration when everything was so bleak! I can't wait for things to open up now and jump around stages once again!
You recently played a 'livestream' to celebrate the release of the album - is this something you might consider doing the odd thing with again, even when live gigs return and we have some sort of semblance of normality? Do you think the way bands reach out to their audience has perhaps changed forever now following the pandemic?
I wouldn't do one without an audience in front of us, but would consider live streaming a gig with a crowd there. It's a great way to reach more people and Friday was so much fun, however it doesn't recreate the magic of being in a room with an audience!
Do you feel there is a strong music scene in the Colchester / Essex area? Are there any particular bands from the area you'd recommend to readers?
Massively! My favourite local band are Ghosts of Men. We also have great acts like Dingus Khan, Animal Noise, The Meffs, Anorak Patch... The list goes on! We're lucky with what strong acts we have locally.
And finally, what plans for Pet Needs going forward now the album is released?
To hit the road and record album two! We absolutely can't wait to get out there.